Cody Taylor won a state championship, setting a state record in the process, and had three runner-up finishes in the state finals, but none of these things were his most memorable moment of the day.
After finishing second in his first event, the 200-yard individual medley, the Columbus North senior was asked to Carmel’s prom by his girlfriend, Greyhound swimmer Katie Lemen, in front of about 4,500 people at the Indiana University Natatorium at IUPUI while he was on the awards podium collecting his runner-up medal.
“I’d say getting asked to their prom (was more memorable) because I didn’t expect that at all,” said Taylor, The Republic Athlete of the Year for Boys Swimming for the second consecutive year. “The state record, I kind of expected to get. I knew what I was going to do in that.”
Taylor was on the podium next to winner Blake Pieroni of Chesterton when he heard a few girls from Carmel’s cheering section yell at him.
Four girls were holding up signs with the letters “P,” “R,” “O” and “M” with a fifth holding an arrow pointing toward Lemen, who has been dating Taylor for about a year.
“I heard them yell a few times,” Taylor said. “I was talking to Blake Pieroni, and I didn’t know if they were calling my name. Then, he said ‘I think they’re calling for you.’
“I’m blind as a bat, and I didn’t have my glasses with me, so I had no clue what it said, so I just nodded and gave a thumbs-up,” he said. “They apparently weren’t satisfied with that. We were up on the podium, and they yelled at me again and showed the signs, and I was like ‘Blake, what does that say?’ He said ‘Prom,’ so then I nodded and smiled.”
It wasn’t the last time Taylor would smile that day. After helping the Bull Frogs to a runner-up finish in the 200 freestyle relay, he swam 54.24 seconds in the 100 breaststroke to break the record of 54.56 that he had set in the preliminaries the previous night.
Taylor, who had swam 1:48.35 in the 200 individual medley, finished the day by anchoring North’s runner-up 400 freestyle relay team.
“I wanted to be a little bit faster in my individual events, but I had very large time drops, and last year would have been top-10 in the country,” Taylor said. “In my head, I wanted to be 1:47, and I wanted to be 53, and I didn’t make it. They were tenths (of a second) off of where I wanted to be, so it’s nothing I can complain about.”
The Indiana University recruit’s efforts led the Bull Frogs to a fourth-place overall finish as a team.
“The work ethic helped some of those other guys go fast,” North coach Jim Sheridan said. “I know he worked his butt off every single day to learn how to go fast. He owns it, he worked for it and he earned it. The legacy being left behind I hope will be one of waking up to the hard work that helped him do the things that he did.”
Now, Taylor is focusing on the Senior State championships, which will be March 22-23. He’ll swim the 200 breaststroke and 400 IM.
“I have a different focus now because now, I’m training for senior state, so I do a different base of events,” Taylor said. “I still do breaststroke and IM, but it’s longer. It’s double the distances, but I like it more. I’m more of a mid-distance person, so it’s more suited to me.”